Like many of his contemporaries, Dagnan-Bouveret was fascinated by the religious customs of Brittany in northern France. In this scene, penitents wearing traditional regional dress proceed solemnly around a church. Some go barefoot or kneel to demonstrate remorse. Annotated drawings on the reverse of the canvas indicate that the painter’s wife posed for the young woman in the foreground. When the picture was shown at the 1887 Salon and the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle, critics applauded its exactitude—unsurprising, as Dagnan-Bouveret used photographs to aid his work.